In the Fulness of Time/Part 25
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-15. Dr. Figart explains five things we would understand about this prayer, beginning with “it is not nor never could be the “Lord’s” prayer in the sense that He ever prayed it, because Jesus never sinned and could never ask for forgiveness.”|
The So-called “Lord’s Prayer”: A Pattern for Prayer. Matthew 6:9-15
Several things should be noted about this particular prayer before we make a verse by verse comment.
- First, it is not nor never could be the “Lord’s” prayer in the sense that He ever prayed it, because Jesus never sinned and could never ask for forgiveness. His prayer is recorded in John 17.
- Second, the teachings of Christ reflect three different dispensations, Law, Grace, and Kingdom. He came to fulfill the Law (5:17); He presented Himself as Messiah/King (4:17); and after He was rejected (11:20) He announced that He would build His Church (16:18). Now, there are areas of truth common to all three dispensations which make them seem similar, yet they are not identical, and the differences must be maintained for an accurate interpretation of the Gospel of Matthew.
- Third, although many areas for praying (in any dispensation) are included in this prayer, it does not represent Christ’s complete instruction for the Dispensation of Grace. It is clearly evident in John 16:22-24 that Christ Himself made certain dispensational changes in prayer for the period after He returned to the Father. He said, “Whatever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” The so-called “Lord’s Prayer” makes no mention of this, and could not, until He returned to the Father at the Ascension.
- Fourth, the context of this prayer in Matthew has to do with His emphasis on sincerity in prayer over against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, as Jesus continues His teaching about the practice of true discipleship expected in the kingdom He is offering. This prayer, therefore, is for these disciples who follow Jesus as the true Messiah and who can, for example, sincerely ask for God’s Kingdom to come on earth where God’s will shall be done as it is in heaven.
To the question, then, “Should we repeat this prayer word for word today?” the answer should be, certainly not as a ritual, and not as vain speaking, since Jesus teaches just the opposite in 6:5-8. Nevertheless, the principles of adoration, petition, confession, supplication and benediction can and should be used in our prayers regularly. The first clause of the prayer, in 6:9a shows that this was the intention of Jesus: “After this manner. Pray ye.” The exact words were not intended to be memorized and repeated; rather, it is the manner, or pattern in which they should pray. It is unfortunate that even today, in many Christian churches and even in secular groups it has become so ingrained to the point where it is exactly what Jesus warned against, that is, “vain repetition.” The Roman Catholic Church teaches merit for praying many “Our Father’s.”
Adoration: Worship of God. 6:9b-10
6:9b “Our Father who art in heaven.”
Though the Old Testament references to the LORD (Jehovah) as Father are few, such as Deuteronomy 32:6; “Do ye thus requite the LORD,O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy father . . .?”; and Psalm 103:13: “As a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.” Actual prayers to God as Father are not common, but there are some, such as Psalm 89:26 “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” Another is found in Isaiah 63:16 “Thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.” Nonetheless, Jesus uses the title 150 times and seems to expect His disciples to know the LORD (Jehovah) in this fashion. He has already referred to God ten times as their heavenly Father here in Matthew 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 2, 4, 6, 8. The three statements with regard to the heavenly Father are all aorist imperatives, which means they are not petitions but rather invocations: “Let thy name be hallowed; let thy kingdom come; let thy will be done.”
6:9c “Hallowed be thy name.”
The word “holiness” comes from the same Greek word as “hallowed.” The word is hagiadzo and is translated as “sanctifieth” in Matthew 23:17, 19. God always has been and always will be absolutely, yet Jesus urges this invocation as part of His disciples’ prayer. It is always good to recognize this separateness of God from all else. When Moses sang to Jehovah in Exodus 15:11 he said, “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness.”
Here it is the “name” of God which is said to reflect Jehovah’s holiness; this is so since his name reflects His character. It is an extended and fruitful study to discover the depth of meanings in his name Jehovah, or Elohim, or Adonai, not to mention the various compound names such as Jehovah Jireh (The LORD Who provides), Jehovah Rapha (The LORD Who heals), Jehovah Tsidkenu (The LORD Who is righteous) to cite a few, revealing God in His dealings with His people at various times in their history.
Another way to consider His “name” is to define theism: Theism is the doctrine of One God, Who is a personal, immanent and transcendent Being Who is absolute and eternal, the Creator and Preserver of the entire universe, and Who, by His Providence, guides all things to their destined end. This is our God, and all these things will come to pass as He sees fit, “in the fulness of time.”